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Engaging Methuen Readers


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Believe me

Halloween just passed, but for those of you who aren’t ready to cede their horror reading for cozy holiday books, Anna has some more chilling tales for you…

Tired of the same witches, zombies, and werewolves? Dude, you and me both. Remember when Halloween was about Odin chasing you to Hell with his pack of demon dogs? Or, or, or, wait – what about when Halloween was about malicious water fiends waiting hungrily to drown you in your own toilet? Or what about when Halloween was about a long-limbed Internet horror that inspires children to kill each other?

At some point in history, sometimes quite recently, each of these terrors were considered real by some human living on Earth. They were taken 100% seriously and people were legitimately afraid of them and driven to weird extremes because of them.

The horror isn’t that the king of the gods is angry, or hungry, or insane, or whatever. Slenderman is just a bunch of doctored pixels. What’s scary is that people believe in him.

Belief can’t be stopped or killed. Belief will come for you until it wins. It will wait in the darkness at night and deprive you of sleep until your blurry eyes see what it wants you to, until your exhausted heart hammers itself out of your chest, until the rabbit in your mind runs in panic until it collapses, chest heaving in a rapid tempo of gasps for the last remaining air in the world.

Let’s see how scary belief can be.

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guin

Jim Jones was a charismatic man. His followers thought he’d been touched by God, so jeffguinn-theroadtojonestownmuch so that they abandoned their lives and followed him to another continent to establish a new world. But what do you do when your prophet goes insane…and orders everyone to die?

This true story, a new take on the horrifying tragedy of the Jonestown mass suicide, will keep you reading well into the night. As Guin delves through FBI files in search of the truth, he plumbs the depths of Jim Jones’s madness, eventually retracing the steps of the man himself to visit the place where the massacre actually happened.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

834421Sometimes people do things because they’ve always done them. Some people cut the end off the turkey because great-grandma taught them to do that, never mind the fact that great-grandma’s pan, long melted to scrap, was simply an inch too short to accommodate the whole bird.

Other people stone each other to death. Nobody even remembers why they do that.

Still chilling years after its publication, this masterwork of psychological horror stands with Jackson’s repertoire of quietly heart-stopping psychological horror stories collected in this gripping volume.

It by Stephen King

There is a clown in the sewer. He lives on your fear of him. It doesn’t matter if you find 41acskyedwl-_sy445_ql70_that implausible. He’ll show you. He’ll convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s real. And he’ll do it by eating your friends first…

There’s no way to defeat the fiend of Derry, Maine except by mastering your own fear first. Yet fear is what it knows, what it’s good at…and what it demands. A group of children face It and barely survive…only to confront the true horror as adults.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

 

bird_box_2014_book_coverSeeing isn’t always believing. Sometimes, if your belief is strong enough, you know not to even look. But then, there’s also the possibility that you’re wrong. That’s what Malorie must face – or not face – when she must evacuate her children away from a monster that causes rational people to go violently insane with a single glance. As she guides their rowboat – blindfolded – Malorie knows that she’s being followed, knows she’s being watched…but is knowledge alone enough to save her family?

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Review: “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville

The back of Perdido Street Station dismally fails to capture it in summary. Oddly, it succeeds for exactly this reason, drawing people into the book through what are essentially false premises. By the time the hapless reader understands that they have been duped, it is too late. They are too far into the snare and there is no escape from the land of Bas-Lag.

Here’s the blurb:

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies the city of New Crobuzon, where the unsavory deal is stranger to no one–not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist who has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before encountered. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger. Soon an eerie metamorphosis will occur that will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon–and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it evokes.

The blurb gets a few things right, namely that Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, a brilliant but unfocused dabbler in several scientific pursuits, is the primary focus of the book. However, the rest sucks. So I’m going to write a few better descriptions that the good people of Del Rey are free to borrow in exchange for a slice of royalties.

A visit from a mutilated foreign stranger sends scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin

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Artist unknown. Saved from Pinterest

careening down a dangerous path that leads through the twisted streets and various dens of criminal activity that is the city of New Crobuzon. Along the way, he’ll hatch a deadly public health threat from its pupa, disrupt the drug trade and its maniacal mobster kingpin, and confront the most fearsome menace of all: his own closest friend. As the hum of New Crobuzon is replaced by nightmare screams and its many alleys grow dark with fear, Isaac must risk everything to save the city that he loves.

See, THIS description pulls in the city of New Crobuzon itself, which represents a vivid backdrop to the tale, while implying a decent threat level that does not rope in the *entirely incidental* Ambassador of Hell.

However, there are some issues with this description, too. After all, the cast of characters in Perdido Street Station is expansive. Let’s see if we can’t introduce a couple other people.

 

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Artist unknown. Saved from Pinterest

A chilling misstep by a hapless scientist unleashes a fate worse than death on the city of New Crobuzon. Now Isaac  Dan der Grimnebuilin must bear the burden of his mistake and repair the damage before more of his friends die. Meanwhile, Isaac’s girlfriend, half-insect artist Lin, struggles with a commission that may have everything to do with the accident, while the mysterious wingless bird-man, Yagharek, wanders the city in search of his lost power of flight. Together, they will join forces with criminals and drug addicts, inter-dimensional demigods and monsters made of gears and wheels, only to face the difficult truth: it may already be too late…

This isn’t bad at all! See? Already better than that first blurb! But what it *doesn’t* capture is the Steampunk aesthetic of New Crobuzon and the roiling wave of political tension upon which the story bucks and sways for the duration of the book.

In a city that runs on both steam and thaumatergical magic, where the political elite soar in blimps and the polity ride in taxis pulled by machines that may yet become sentient, the punishment for transgression is worse than death. But that threat can’t equal the rewards: the scientist who discovers how to make a mutilated bird-man fly could generate unlimited energy and finally correct the many social ills of New Crobuzon. But when Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin goes too far, the consequences of his research reverberate through the twisted streets of brick and stone, even as far as the great copper thinking machine that hides in the city’s expansive dump and into dimensions where enormous forces communicate in transcendent poetry. All centers on the city’s hub and center of government: Perdido Street Station, from whence all trains travel and where all dangerous things end up sooner or later.

Et voila: you now have a decent idea of what Perdido Street Station is about. Therefore, you also have no excuse to not go and borrow it from the library today.

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Artist unknown. Saved from Curufea.com


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Total Eclipse of the…

Sun

With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky. I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning! The life went boiling through my veins; I was a new man! The rim of black spread slowly into the sun’s disk, my heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest stared into the sky, motionless. I knew that this gaze would be turned upon me, next. When it was, I was ready. I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun. It was a noble effect. You could see the shudder sweep the mass like a wave…I said: “Stay where you are. If any man moves—even the king—before I give him leave, I will blast him with thunder, I will consume him with lightnings!”

-From A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Heart


Off of Faster than the Speed of Night by Bonnie Tyler

Year 1878

This is the story of the 1878 eclipse that shadowed much of the American west. Scientists, spurred on by a rivalry with Europe, flocked to the dusty, ramshackle railroad towns in the line of totality, hoping to find something to cement their places in history. They encountered Native Americans, women aiming to prove that they had a place in science, horrid weather, and a lot of big egos. I found the interpersonal relationships mentioned in this book almost as interesting as the science itself.

From BookPuke On American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race To Catch The Shadow Of The Moon And Win The Glory Of The World by David Baron

Glum Teenage Vampires

I want to be a monster too!

Bella, from Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer

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From The Eclipse Plug-in Development Beginner’s Guide by Alex Blewitt

 


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Kicking Butt and Saving Money…With the Library!

Libraries, right? They’re all about books and paper and dusty old cardigan-wearing women with chains on their glasses. Right? Right?

Obviously, all wrong. If I had chains on my glasses, they wouldn’t fall off my face whenever I sneezed. Also, I mislaid my last cardigan the other day while I was getting a tattoo. If you see it, please tell me. I’m cold and I want it back. It’s yellow.

Like this.

Just like librarians aren’t just cardigan-wearing book biddies, libraries aren’t just dusty, atmospheric book warehouses. One of the most popular complaints I hear at the reference desk goes something like, I hate reading. There’s nothing for me here. This is a fun desert. HAH! That’s where you’re wrong! Let me ask you one question: how does saving money strike your funny bone?

If you’re anything like me, then you just jumped up with a whoop and fistpumped so hard you hyper-extended your elbow. I love saving money! It’s the second best thing to adopting kittens and teaching them kung-fu. That’s why I love the fact that Nevins Library owns and loans a Kill-A-Watt.

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Hyperdrive not included.

What does the Kill-A-Watt do? As its name suggests, this device does kung-fu on your energy bill, much like a kitten might if I were allowed to adopt any more of them. Simply plug the Kill-A-Watt into the wall and then plug one of your household appliances – let’s say your XBox – into the Kill-A-Watt. Kick back with a little Call of Duty and the Kill-A-Watt will tell you how much juice your gaming habit is sucking out of your monthly power budget.

While you’re killing zombies, zombies are killing your checkbook. Who’s winning the game now?

Look what you’ve done!

The library will loan the Kill-A-Watt to you for one week, which is plenty of time to run a load of dishes, chill a batch of potato salad, and clean a pile of towels. Think you know how much all of that is costing you? I dare you to check. Maybe your fridge will turn out to be an inefficient carbon-gobbler that fairly screams to be repurposed into a shelving unit. Maybe it’s time to make way for a new dryer, or to do as I do and not wash towels at all. (Guys, guys, stop. It’s OK. We’re already clean when we use them. Think about it!)

How to recycle old refrigerator - Little Piece Of Me

Or whatever.

Take control of your energy use. Borrow our Kill-A-Watt and begin kicking some power bill butt today!

Image result for kitten punch


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BYO Library!

Ever seen a Little Free Library? They’re the adorable tiny houses full of books that have been popping up on street corners and in front of houses for the last decade. Now, libraries are starting to adopt them. In case you want to get ahead of the trend, here are some books that will show you how to build and place your own free library exchange.

 

download (1)The Little Free Library Book by Margaret Aldrich

Obviously, this is the best book for starting your LFL. It’s got a description of that they are and what they do, as well as some construction plans.

 

There’s not much difference between a big birdhouse and a mini-library. This book will teach you how to build a birdhouse, but you may as well turn it into a book house!

 

51NDwMxRN8L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Do you feel weird asking people to put books into your itty bitty library for free? Time to get in the mood and get hip with the fine art of saying “please!” In case you’re wondering, then yes, this is that Amanda Palmer.

 

 


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Nevins Book Club-Approved LGBTQ Reads

Did you know that the Nevins Memorial Library has an LGBTQ book club? It’s true! Though the club is off for the summer, it meets at 7:00pm every second Thursday of the month. This year, these are the books that we read.

51qgsn2wkwlThen Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan & Lisa Dickey       

There’s no better way to capture the drama of the marriage equality movement than in the words of one of the lawyers who fought it. Roberta Kaplan was the attorney for United States v. Windsor, the case that finally defeated DOMA and allowed same-sex couples to legally marry.

 

 

220px-aristotle_and_dante_discover_the_secrets_of_the_universe_coverAristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe  by Benjamin Alire Saenz                                 

Friendship blossoms in the unlikeliest of places – even between a nerd and a jock. But as Aristotle and Dante’s friendship becomes deeper, they may both have to face something important about their identities.

 

onthemove-by-oliversacksOn the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks was more than just a groundbreaking neuroscientist. Author, bodybuilder, motorcyclist, traveler, and drug addict, this complicated man tells his own story at last.

 

 

51xb0lb0mml-_sx322_bo1204203200_Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

The Dark Ages was a bad time to be alive in general, and worse if you were a woman. But one girl dared to take on the system through stealth, secretly becoming a priest and eventually taking on the robes of the papacy itself.

 

 

51ekup0xjwl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Tales of the City  by Armistead Maupin

Many people have seen the TV adaptation of Tales of the City, but reading it is another experience entirely. This long-running series, which Maupin famously directed according to the wishes of the readers of his daily serial, is a snapshot of LGBTQ life in 1970s San Francisco.

 

72003Angels in America by Tony Kushner

If Tales of the City is a snapshot of 1970s LGBTQ life, then Angels in America must stand for what came in the next decade. As AIDS ravaged the gay community, forsaken angels call upon one afflicted man to spread a new message to humanity.

 

 

downloadBeijing Comrades  by Bei Tong   

Tumultuous and steamy, this book is largely a mystery in itself. Who wrote it? Was the author a man or a woman, gay or straight, ally or voyeur? No matter what the truth may be, this depiction of gay life in modern China is an intense, fascinating take on a culture in flux.

 

14649555The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cam’s parents die, she is perversely relieved…relieved that they never had to find out that she had kissed a girl. Then her holy roller aunt comes to town, and life gets *really* complicated.

 


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Pairing books and music

There are lots of good articles out there pairing books and music. The Guardian has one. So do BookRiot and Flavorwire. But now we have one of our own, and it’s the best!

 

The Stand by Stephen King / “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

stand-cover

Stephen King is a notorious music aficionado, and he often adds soundtracks to his books in the form of music within the story. However, even when he doesn’t, his dark, evocative tales of terror inspire certain moods. The Stand is the tale of a plague and the supernatural threat that follows in the form of Randall Flagg, embodiment of all human evil. Flagg is a master at convincing mortals to bargain away their souls in exchange for luxuries or security, and as such, strongly evokes the haunting melody “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Listen and tremble.

 

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies

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“Where Is My Mind” is best known for being the theme song to Fight Club, the nineties movie about men fighting masculinity by fighting other men and…yeah, it kind of breaks down once you start to think about it. Personally, I think it would have been a much better pairing with The Bell Jar, where Plath’s protagonist struggles against her own looming insanity.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood / “Evelyn” by Kim Tillman and Silent Film

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Chronicling both the aftermath of a disaster and a twisted love triangle involving genetic engineering, Oryx and Crake will rock you a little. What does it mean to be human when humanity can build itself better? Can we engineer away our baser urges and destructive instincts? Protagonist Crake thinks so, but, of course, the reader – and Kim Tillman – may be less optimistic by the end.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon / “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

history-of-the-decline-and-fa

Most people don’t read Decline these days unless they have to for a class, and that’s a shame. There’s a reason it’s a classic! Rome was the original blueprint for Western society, and we basically still follow their model. Reading about it can be…well, a little spooky. “Viva la Vida” could broadly apply to French, British, or American imperial ambitions, but it all comes down to Rome in the end.